Q&A Articles

Identity Theft Prevention Checklist

The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) estimates that as many as 9 million Americans have their identities stolen each year. Identity thieves use consumers’ information to commit fraud, theft or other crimes. It can destroy a person’s credit and ruin their good name. It can also cost a lot of time and money to fix. Review this identity theft prevention checklist

Skilled identity thieves may use a variety of methods to get hold of your information, including:

Dumpster Diving

They rummage through trash looking for bills or other paper with your personal information on it.

Skimming

They steal credit/debit card numbers by using a special storage device when processing your card.

Phishing

They pretend to be financial institutions or companies and send spam or pop-up messages to get you to reveal your personal information.

Changing Your Address

They divert your billing statements to another location by completing a change of address form.

Old-Fashioned Stealing

They steal wallets and purses; mail, including bank and credit card statements; pre-approved credit offers; and new checks or tax information. They steal personnel records, or bribe employees who have access.

Pre-texting

They use false pretenses to obtain your personal information from financial institutions, telephone companies, and other sources.

Use the following identity theft prevention checklist to keep your identity safe:

  • Shred all financial documents and personal information before you throw them away.
  • Protect your Social Security number. Don’t carry it with you and give it out only when absolutely necessary.
  • Don’t give out personal information over the phone, by mail or over the Internet.
  • Never click on links sent in unsolicited emails. Use firewalls, anti-spyware and anti-virus software on your computer.
  • Don’t use an obvious password like your birth date or phone number.
  • Keep your personal information in a secure location in your home, especially if you have other people living with you or working at your home.
  • Switch to paperless statements for all billing to reduce the possibility of mail fraud.
  • Inspect your credit report regularly.
  • Inspect your statements every month for charges you did not make.
  • If you suspect identity theft, place a fraud alert on your credit reports and review your reports carefully for errors.
  • Close accounts that have been tampered with.
  • Opt out of pre-approved credit card and insurance offers.
  • If you find your identity has been stolen, file a police report with your local department and report the theft to the Federal Trade Commission .
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